Category Archives: Realizations on Krishna Consciousness

My Interview on Self-realization for Top Brazilian Fight Magazine, “Tatame”

I was interviewed for an article on MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and yoga for Brazil’s biggest fight magazine, called Tatame.  Tatame has a print run of 22 thousand and is distributed all over Brazil. Because there are so many Brazilian UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) champions, including the legendary Anderson Silva, MMA has become huge in Brazil, the country’s favorite sport now after soccer.

Despite the mundane focus of the article, which was meant to show how yoga helps MMA fighters perform better, there was room to speak of yoga as a complete spiritual path, of the importance of self-realization and to include mention of our bhakti-yoga retreat, Pandavas Paradise.

The very beginning of the article, entitled “The Power of the Mind” had a quote from me in large print, saying:

“Yoga goes way beyond just physical activity or meditation. It’s a way of life, an enlightened way to deal with life, with increasing blissfulness, peace and mental clarity, to achieve the full potential of human life.”

The article ran to 4 pages with a large photo of me leading kirtan at Pandavas Paradise.

I got the interview because of an essay I’d written late last year, comparing the path of yoga to the UFC, in the sense that, in yoga spirituality, results matter, not just dogmas or religious traditions.

A full PDF of the article can be found here (in Portuguese): http://giridhari.com.br/pdf/Revista_Tatame_Giridhari.pdf.

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Krishna and Soulpancake

Soulpancake is a rising star of the Internet – a website dedicated to get people together “to chew on life’s big questions”.  I hadn’t heard about it before, but after reading an article about it yesterday, I thought: “wow, that’s a place where I should be!”.  I signed up (real easy to do) and immediately saw so many interesting threads going on about God, religion, vegetarian diets, etc. I’ve already participated in several “conversations”.

The way it works is that someone will post a question. Anyone in the soulpancake community can then leave a reply to that question (and add further replies if so inspired). When you click on that question, you can see all the replies given to it so far (like comments on a blog post). You can include links in your answers too and you can also create a question yourself.

I urge devotees to join in and help share Krishna consciousness there.

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Sannyasa Statistics for ISKCON

Here are some very interesting statistics regarding sannyas in ISKCON:

  • From 1967 until 2010 included,  194 devotees received sannyasi initiation. Srila Prabhupada initiated 54 sannyasis.
  • Of these, 87 relinquished their sannyasa status and 6 have left ISKCON but are still sannyasis.
  • 12 sannyasis left their body while in good standing within their asrama.
  • Number of sannyasis presently in ISKCON:  88  (plus one suspended)

Here’s the good news:

Of the 87 who left their sannyasa ashram, only 1 was from the post-1992 period when the new, more extensive process for entering the ashram was started. In percentages, 44.5% of sannyasis from the pre-1992 era fell, and only 2.5% after that. This is an example of the GBC acting very inteligently, with a decision that brought deep positive impact to the ISKCON world.

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12hr Gita Weekend Course in São José dos Campos

On the 10th and 11th of December I taught another 12hr Gita course, this time in São José dos Campos – SP. SJ dos Campos is a good example of the major economic gains seen in Brazil in the last 10 years. This city of nearly one million people lies an hour and a bit from São Paulo and has technological, aerospace and car industries located there. Empty fields and landfills of ten years ago are now massively developed high income neighborhoods and fancy shopping malls.

In the midst of all this, a small group of qualified devotees are trying to establish a Krishna Consciousness preaching center. In sync with the successful recipe for urban preaching seen in other parts of the world, the leader there, Nanda Kumara Das (HDG) has a prasadam restaurant and yoga center (he’s both a cook and yoga teacher!). Nanda Kumara is an “old timer” by Brazilian standards, having started back in the early eighties as a full time brahmacari book distributor. His sankirtan consciousness persists to this day and he has nicely inspired the small group of devotees there, which includes two other yoga teachers, to regularly get books with him for distribution to friends, family, co-workers and any other people they may come in contact with.

In his spacious yoga studio, over his restaurant, 12 people gathered to spend 12 hours going over the entire content of the Bhagavad-gita. The mood was very peaceful and though we had complete newcomers and experienced devotees alike, they all greatly enjoyed the experience – as did I!

Here is some of the feedback I got:

“… The 12 hour Gita course was illuminating, and it brought to light several concepts which for me have always been somewhat obscure. I was also impressed with systematic and modern approach you applied, which facilitated the understanding of these ancient concepts… ” – Yogindra Das

“I have to thank you for this wonderful weekend that the Lord blessed us with. I hope to repeat it many times, for it meant a lot to me to spend 12 hours hearing about Krishna. Many of my doubts were cleared up and now I’ll be able to read the Gita more clearly. ” – Ranga Devi Dasi

“… it was a great pleasure … we have been privileged to learn this nectar.” – Bk. Alexandre

“This 12hr Gita helped me a lot to regain a state of  lucidity and serenenity that I had experienced during a period that was undoubtedly the best time of my life so far. I am very motivated to apply this method, in order to connect deeply with a higher consciousness and experience self-realization at a level beyond what I have already experienced in this incarnation. ” – Luiz Reis

“… we had hours of great wisdom. Thank you for introducing us to the Gita in such a simple and lighthearted way.” – Ana Paula

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Divine Days in Nova Gokula

I spent November 11-15th in Nova Gokula, the most famous rural temple in ISKCON Brazil. Two important events took place there during this holiday weekend: the national meetings of the ISKCON Brazil leaders and a 48h Kirtan.

Nova Gokula is a very special place with an authentic “dhama vibe” as a result of the intense devotion that has been cultivated there for over three decades, the passage of thousands of devotees and pilgrims and, of course, the presence of the Divine Couple in the temple in the form of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda .

The focus of the meetings of the National Council (CGB) was a leadership course taught by Hanuman Prabhu. The highlight of the course was Devamrta Maharaja’s daily talk on leadership, the GBC’s strategic planning innovations and devotee care. Devamrta Maharaja is the GBC for Brazil and has, in his own subtle and cautious way, brought about important changes to ISKCON Brazil.

One of the important decisions that came about was the appointment of three new Zonal secretaries: Dhanvantari Swami , Yamunacarya Prabhu and me. Hanuman Prabhu continues as Zonal Secretary, so now we have four working together in Brazil. Being the youngest and least experienced next to these three  great Vaishnavas, I was appointed  Zonal Secretary “candidate”, which means I have to “prove myself” on the job in the next 18-24 months. I ask for the blessings of the Vaishnavas in this regard!

Devamrta Maharaja gave a brilliant Srimad Bhagavatam class on Saturday, speaking on how sad it is to grow old without spiritual advancement, where desires continue piling up, but the senses are no longer able to act, death is approaching and everything is lost.

The 48h Kirtan started on Saturday. This great event was organized by Vaikuntha Murti Prabhu, who has proved himself time and time again as very competent in organizing tours and events. We had  48 hours non-stop chanting of the maha-mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare! World renowned kirtaneers came from the US, Argentina and India: Amala Kirtan, Amala Harinam (pictured above), Ajamil Prabhus and Gunagrahi Maharaja. Hundreds of participants swam in an ocean of nectar of the holy names of Krishna in great bliss!

Great association, great kirtans, beautiful Deities and a chance to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission: what else could one ask for?

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A Trip to Rio

During my one week trip to Rio de Janeiro, I had the opportunity to give lectures in three different places.

Thursday, Oct. 27, was the day we celebrated Govardhana Puja. The event took place at the Rio ISKCON Temple.

The Deities were beautiful.

And here’s a picture of the Govardhana Hill wth the Temple’s Govardhana Sila on top.

I talked about the importance of the day, focusing on the different ways of taking shelter of Krishna and its importance in our spiritual lives.

On Saturday, the 29th, I went to the pleasant mountain town of Miguel Pereira where the devotee couple, Tulasi Bhakta and Radharani, have a preaching center.  There I lectured on Dattatreya’s teachings from the Srimad Bhagavatam, “Enlightenment by the Natural Path.”  The next day we observed Srila Prabhupada’s dissappearance day. I spoke about the unique importance of Srila Prabhupada and how we are fortunate to have him as our founder-acharya.

And on Tuesday, November 1st, I spoke on the subject of karma at the new ISKCON center in Rio de Janeiro called “Govinda.” This yoga preaching center, organized by the ever enthusiastic Chandramukha Maharaja, is well decorated and comfortable and located in the heart of downtown Rio.

A group of more than 25 people attended the event.

My next trip will be to Nova Gokula, on the 11-15th November, where we’ll have our Brazil National Council meetings, with the presence of Devamrita Maharaja, our GBC.

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Weekend Gita Course in Uberaba

I was invited to the small city of Uberaba, in the state of Minas Gerais, to give a weekend 12h course on the Bhagavad-gita, on the 15th and 16th of October.

Uberaba is a peculiar city. I’ve never been in a place before where I’ve been so repeatedly told by the residents how terrible the place is for cultivating higher consciousness. Just about everyone I met there, on different and seperate occasions, would spontaneously tell me this! And I must confess I did also perceive a rather “heavy” mood to the place. Uberaba, amongst other things, is famous as national center for cow slaughter, as well as beer drinking and country music – I’m thinking this has something to do with it! The picture above of the city’s cathedral catches some of this mood.

There is one lone and brave devotee, Yadunatha Das (pictured above next to me), who fixes motors for a living, who tries to keep alive the flame of Krishna consciousness in the city. He is very, very humble and sincere. With the help of only two fixed congregational members, a steel worker and an electrician, they payed for all my travel and lodging expenses and offered the course to the public free of charge. Charging, they all agreed, would be hopeless given the city’s apathy for all things spiritual and uplifting.

Despite all these obstacles we had a group of 10 people, who very attentively heard the necterean teachings of the Gita and highlights of Srila Prabhupada’s brilliant commentary.

We also had a small Sunday Program, with two new guests and some of the guests from the Gita course. We had a lively questions and answers section that went for about an hour. They showed a lot of eagerness in hearing more and more!

Some of the participants sent me some nice feedback, which I post below:

“Thank you for all the instructions and wisdom that you gave us these days. These were very auspicious days… Who knows, maybe the consciousness of this city is changing, and perhaps expanding, as the seeds have been sown.” – Marluce

“Thanks again for all the lessons, good will, love of God and your example. Now I will try harder to change my habits and my mind.” – Fernanda

“For starters I want to thank you for the joy of having participated in the course over the weekend. Benefiting from it all brought me immense joy. The words in our vocabulary cannot clearly express what I felt … Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” -Telma

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